Girls soccer: Hampshire’s Langston Kelly scores early in shutout of Prairie Ridge

Whip-Purs freshman scores team-high 8th goal

Hampshire's Langston Kelly takes a shot at the goal during a Fox Valley Conference soccer game against Prairie Ridge on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at the MAC Athletic Complex in Crystal Lake.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Hampshire freshman Langston Kelly has had a knack for making the most of scoring chances early in her career.

She did so once again in a critical early moment against Prairie Ridge on Tuesday afternoon.

Kelly used her speed to create another scoring chance and give the Whip-Purs an early lead. That was all Hampshire needed as it held on to stay undefeated in Fox Valley Conference play with a 1-0 win at the MAC Sports Center.

“I just kind of see it and go to it,” Kelly said. “I don’t really know how to explain it.”

Hampshire coach Kelly Madison wanted the Whips (7-2, 3-0 FVC) to take an early lead Tuesday because of the forecast for severe weather. After having a match called and losing to Crystal Lake Central last season because of thunderstorms, Madison emphasized the importance of scoring within the first minutes in case play had to be stopped.

Although Kelly didn’t score in the first five minutes, she got the job done. Kelly used her speed to find a pocket of open space to create a breakaway opportunity. Once she got her foot on the ball, there was no way for Wolves goalkeeper Winter Gallivan to stop Kelly’s shot.

The Whips led 1-0 with 33:54 left in the first half.

Kelly scored her team-high eighth goal of the season. She’s part of a Hampshire front line that features mostly underclassmen who have speed and have worked on getting the ball on net each time they have a chance.

That touch led to an important momentum change for Hampshire on Tuesday.

“It gives us an opportunity to calm down a little bit and not be so rushed,” Kelly said.

The Whips continued to press but had to adjust to the shorter and wider field at the MAC. Both teams struggled to move the ball up at times because of congestion in the middle of the pitch.

“I just kind of see it and go to it. I don’t really know how to explain it.”

—  Langston Kelly, Hampshire freshman

Hampshire’s defense used that to its advantage. The Wolves finished with three shots on goal, including an important save made by Whips goalkeeper Isabelle Eckert in the final five minutes.

“We want to limit shots, keep the line and hold the line – no one’s escaping that backline,” Madison said. “If they do, our goalie is right there to get hands on it.”

Hampshire's Mikala Amegasse tries to control he ball between Prairie Ridge's Sarah Mayes (left)  and Prairie Ridge's Grace Wolf during a Fox Valley Conference soccer game on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at the MAC Athletic Complex in Crystal Lake.

Prairie Ridge (2-4-1, 2-1) earned its first shot on goal with five minutes left in the first half and struggled to move the ball up the pitch. Gallivan made three saves.

Wolves coach Lindsay Gertz didn’t like her team’s decision-making at times and felt like Prairie Ridge struggled to play as a unit and with high intensity.

“Our energy was low, we played really, really flat tonight, which is unfortunate,” Gertz said. “It wasn’t what we were looking for heading into this, and that changes the whole dynamic. If you can’t get your players to throw some energy out there, change the pace of the game, that determines the game.”

The Wolves will get a chance to regroup against Huntley on Thursday, while the Whips will try to stay undefeated in FVC play against Crystal Lake South.

Madison will look for the Whips to continue to try to play a full 80 minutes. Although Tuesday was a step in the right direction, she’s looking for a more complete match heading deeper into conference play.

“We’re focused on consistency, playing the full 80 just consistently,” Madison said. “There’s no ebb and flow of that power play. We are continually attacking, continually moving back, continuing the play whether we’re tired or not.”